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Interview: Deap Vally

LA rock duo Deap Vally are bringing raw woman-woman rock to the fore. Love them or hate them, you’ve got to admire their conviction; they’re primal, brash and unapologetic in their love of crocheting. PlanetNotion’s Lauren Vevers talked life on the road with drummer Julie Edwards ahead of their performance at Glastonbury and the release of their debut album, Sistrionix


PlanetNotion: What have you been doing today?
Julie Edwards: I’m good! We’re just having a couple of days off. We were playing festivals in Germany and we both happened to have friends who live in Berlin – different best friends – it’s really random and strange. We decided to crash at our friends’ places and just chill. I don’t know… we were feeling like we should be more productive so we came into the Universal offices to do some press.

PN: Berlin is a cool city.
JE: Berlin is fascinating.  It’s such a colourful city. Every single public surface is covered in awesome, beautiful graffiti. It’s funny because in L.A. usually where there’s graffiti, it’s a low income, crime-ridden neighbourhood but here it’s everywhere.  I was thinking… it’s perfect like a set where you can feel badass; it’s a gritty city but you can leave your door unlocked of go for a walk alone at night.

PN: Is travelling and touring something you enjoy?
JE: I do enjoy it. I mean, I feel the way about it that anyone would feel about their life in general – sometimes it’s awesome and I’m so happy but sometimes it’s so frustrating and exhausting. Y’know, you’re living out of a bag and you’re dragging 23kg of your belongings everywhere you go.  It’s crazy! It’s not like normal life. We got to Berlin and the friend who I’m staying with was like, ‘let’s go to the park!’ and ‘let’s do this and that’ and I’m like, ‘all I want to do is sit indoors for two days and not have to be anywhere’.  I just want to sit, crochet and smoke a spliff. If you can imagine, every night of your life is like being at a club or a festival.

PN: It’s intense.
JE: It’s your job and you’re in these environments where everyone’s energy is ‘this is going to be the craziness night of my life’ but that’s every night of your life. I think if fuels some rockers to party really hard… to hurtle through time out of their minds, but for me, it’s exhausting.  I always need a couple of days of inactivity and quietness in balance to it.

PN: Do you find there’s a lot of time for needlework on the road? I read that you met Lindsey at crochet club?
JE: We did. Yeah, and there’s so much time for needlework on the road because you’re in a van all day.  That’s how we stay sane. Right now we’re both on a really heavy crocheting jag – we’re both crocheting baby blankets.

PN: You should start a business on the side.
JE: I know, totally. Really, really expensive crochet pieces.

PN: With aggressive slogans.
JE: Totally.

PN: Do you think rock and roll is in your bones?
JE: I think it is in my bones. I didn’t really grow up personally with it. I was a big nerd and I loved musical theatre and classical music – I had glasses, I had braces and a very limited number of friends so there was no rock and roll in my early years which is maybe why I love it so much now. My brother gave My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless on CD and I remember thinking, ‘this is the strangest music I’ve ever heard’ and I didn’t even understand it or what culture it came from because I was just a nerd listening to Westside Story on repeat. It made me realise music is an expression of the way you feel. It blew me away. Then I was really into Nine Inch Nails probably because I’m a drummer. It’s very rhythm based, loud and aggressive. I couldn’t get enough. Then someone turned me onto Zeppelin and I was like a kid in a candy store – everything was so dark, heavy and beautiful but also so potent. My brother’s in a band called Autolux and so, when they started playing live shows and I looked old enough, I snuck in. They’re a brutal, icy, heavy band with a female drummer.

PN: There’s a strong sense of female empowerment on Sistrionix – are you comfortable with the term feminist?
JE: I think someone should ask Robbie Williams if he’s experiencing enough male empowerment.

PN: Do you find it trying that you’re constantly referred to in terms of your gender?
JE: No, I would just like people to also talk about our music and there are some journalists that get caught up on the ‘girl’ part and on the way we dress. They’re not able to see past those things in order to listen to our music or to think of us as authors of music. Lindsey and I knew that being women and dressing sexily was something that was different about Deap Vally and because it was women playing heavy rock and roll. In that sense, none of it was a surprise. We’re very used to fielding questions about it now. I do think there should be more women playing music together. It’s a man’s world but that can work to our benefit as much as it can work against us.

PN: What have you found to be the most frustrating aspect of the music business?
JE: Well, it’s less about being a woman and more about being an artist. The way, when you’re on a major label, I mean, clearly you are a commodity and they’re running a business but they don’t even create any illusions about what you’re doing, which is very distasteful for an artist because we didn’t set out to be broke our whole lives or to make money – really we just felt some weird compulsion to play music. When you’re suddenly on a major label, they expect you to be as business-orientated as they are. I think that’s a mistake. That’s been the most frustrating aspect – those two worlds coming together, creativity and money.

PN: How was it recording the new album and working with Lars?
JE: It was fantastic! Lars is like our brother. He produced Matt & Kim so he knows how to get the most out of a two-piece without adding embellishments that aren’t there and he’s also worked with The Mars Volta so he knows about producing heavy, impactful music. We just felt so comfortable with him – we would crack up and eat lots of BBQ.  We communicated so well and what we were really going for was to capture the rawness of the live shows or the rawness of rehearsing in a garage or something. We just wanted it to be super raw and to have our energy in it.

PN: Are you looking forward to festival season?
JE: We’re fully underway. We’ve been doing it for a few weeks now. It’s an extraordinary opportunity for us. We’re so, so lucky to be playing and they’re so much fun; you get in front of so many people and get to hang out with all these bands backstage. We’ve heard Glastonbury is the festival to end all festivals. We are so excited. I don’t even know if there’s life after Glastonbury?

PN: There is but it’s bleak. And lastly –  you probably get asked this quite a bit – what’s your beef with the letter ‘e’?
JE: Deap Vally just kind of stuck. I think misspelling names goes further back than currently for instance, The Beatles or Led Zeppelin. We came up with that weird spelling, then we put it into Google out of curiosity and it only yielded one result, which is statistically almost completely impossible so we felt that it was a sign.

PN: Thanks for chatting to me Julie. I hope you’re day is crochet-filled and carefree.

Sistrionix is available to pre-order now.

- Lauren Vevers

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